Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

El Sistema

About two weeks ago in my Senior Captsone class we had to read a few articles about El Sistema and ended up watching a video in class. I had never heard of this organization before and became fascinated with this. El Sistema was created by the economist and trained musician José Antonio Abreu. His mission was to provide children with opportunities in music from an extremely young age. This provides the kids in Venezuela a different option of life. This article, written by the New York Times, gives a brief overview about the mission of the organization.

Gustavo Dudamel is one of the most famous products to have come from El Sistema. He is currently the conductor of Los Angeles Philharmonic and is asked to be guest conductors at other symphonies.

This idea of providing children with an alternative way of life, even if they don’t become professional musicians but they develop their skills, could this system work in the US? Why or why not?


2 comments on “El Sistema

  1. awellfare89
    October 1, 2014

    I love this program and it actually does work in the US! Here’s the list of programs in the country:

    My alma mater Oklahoma City University’s Wanda Bass School of Music partnered with St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools to create the el-sistema-inspired program. It’s gained a lot of community support as it acts as a positive learning space in place of a typical after-school care facility five days a week. This reminds me of our discussion about competition this week, since it seeks to replace competition (daycares) for free.

    While I don’t think this particular group will tour like the Venezuela flagship, the model has proven successful in its mission to create social change. Several of my classmates are teachers there and share amazing stories about some of the sixth graders who didn’t express the desire to even graduate high school, let alone study music, until they experienced a passion they didn’t know they had during the classes.

    I hope it continues to live past its inaugural season. I know that they received several large private donations to get this program up and running, but I have yet to hear how else they are funding themselves. I don’t think they received much from the OKC schools foundation and they have already had a change in leadership, which consists mostly of local music teachers. Not to say they aren’t capable, but I would be interested to sit in on a staff meeting. Luckily, the board consists of capable individuals, but I still worry because start-ups are likely to falter within their inaugural seasons.

  2. qfloyd
    October 1, 2014

    El Sistema is a huge program in the United States. Many conservatories are now adopting and accrediting degrees in the program. I know the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has had a huge success in El Sistema and is trying to expand it so that other orchestras in the US join. I have a friend currently enrolled at the Longy School of Music, where she works with the LA Phil and is bringing El Sistema to LA. Great find!

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